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Tuesday, 24 January 2017 11:42

DDoS attacks larger, more frequent and complex, says Arbor Featured

DDoS attacks larger, more frequent and complex, says Arbor Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are becoming more frequent and complex, forcing businesses to deploy purpose-built DDoS protection solutions, according to a new infrastructure security report which warns that the threat landscape has been transformed by the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) botnets.

The annual worldwide infrastructure security report from Arbor Networks — the security division of NETSCOUT — reveals that the largest DDoS attack reported in 2016 was 800 Gbps, a 60% increase over 2015’s largest attack of 500 Gbps.

“Not only are DDoS attacks getting larger, but they are also becoming more frequent and complex,” says Darren Anstee, Arbor Networks chief security technologist.

“This increased scale and complexity has led more businesses to deploy purpose-built DDoS protection solutions, implement best-practice hybrid defences and increase time for incident response practice – all positive developments in an otherwise gloomy threat environment.”

According to Arbor, the stakes have changed for network and security teams, with the threat landscape transformed by the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT) botnets.

Arbor says as IoT devices proliferate across networks, bringing tremendous benefits to businesses and consumers, attackers are able to “weaponise them due to inherent security vulnerabilities”.

“The survey respondents have grown accustomed to a constantly evolving threat environment with steady increases in attack size and complexity over the past decade,” Anstee says.

“However, IoT botnets are a game changer because of the numbers involved. There are billions of these devices deployed and they are being easily weaponised to launch massive attacks. Increasing concern over the threat environment is reflected in the survey results, which show significant improvements in the deployment of best practice technologies and response processes.”

According to Arbor, the chances of being hit by a DDoS attack have never been higher, with respondents showing increased rates of attacks, with:

•    53% of service providers indicated they are seeing more than 21 attacks per month – up from 44% last year;

•    21% of data-centre respondents saw more than 50 attacks per month, versus only 8% last year; and

•    45% of enterprise, government and education respondents experienced more than 10 attacks per month – a 17% year-over-year increase.

Anstee warns that multiple simultaneous attack vectors are increasingly being used to target different aspects of a victim’s infrastructure simultaneously and that these multi-vector attacks are popular because they can be difficult to defend against and are often highly effective, “driving home the need for an agile, multi-layer defence”.

The report shows that 67% of service providers and 40% of enterprise, government and education (EGE) reported seeing multi-vector attacks on their networks.

Arbor notes that the consequences of DDoS attacks are becoming clear and says that the attacks have successfully made many leading Web properties unreachable – costing thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars in revenue, and leading the C-suite and company boards to make DDoS defence a top priority.

And, according to the report:

•    61% of data centre operators reported attacks totally saturating data centre bandwidth;

•    25% of data centre and cloud providers saw the cost of a major DDoS attack rise above US$100,000, and 5% cited costs of over US$1 million; and

•    41% of EGE organisations reported DDoS attacks exceeding their total internet capacity. Nearly 60% of EGE respondents estimate downtime costs above US$500/minute.

On a positive note, Arbor says this year’s survey results indicate a better understanding of the brand damage and operational expense of successful DDoS attacks, driving focus on best-practice defensive strategies.

And, the company says that across the board, in every industry, there has been an increase in the use of purpose-built DDoS protection solutions and best-practice methods, with the report showing that:

•    77% of service provider respondents are capable of mitigating attacks in less than 20 minutes;

•    Nearly 55% of EGE respondents now carry out DDoS defence simulations, with approximately 40% carrying them out at least quarterly; and

•    The proportion of data centre and cloud provider respondents that are using firewalls for DDoS defence has fallen from 71% to 40%.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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